Fiction--classics -Americans abroad -Hemingway is a real drag -the Lost generation -Pamplona, Spain -Um, perhaps I'm missing something
The Sun Also Rises | Ernest Hemingway (read a Hemingway, Steinbeck or John D. MacDonald novel) ★★☆☆☆
“Published in 1926 to explosive acclaim, “The Sun Also Rises” stands as perhaps the most impressive first novel ever written by an American writer. A roman a clef about a group of American and English expatriates on an excursion from Paris’s Left Bank to Pamplona for the July fiesta and its climactic bull fight, a journey from the center of a civilization spiritually bankrupted by the First World War to a vital, God-haunted world in which faith and honor have yet to lose their currency, the novel captured
for the generation that would come to be called “Lost” the spirit of its age, and marked Ernest Hemingway as the preeminent writer of his time.“- Scribner
I know this story is supposed to shed light on the lost generation of soldiers recovering from the carnage of WWI, but it is one of the dullest tales I’ve ever read. I also understand that, written in 1926, using anti-Semitic terminology was acceptable, but holy crap Hemingway is savage. Nearly every action, reaction and minor character flaw of the Robert Cohn character was attributed to his Jewishness. From off-color remarks about the appearance of his nose, to haughty retorts by the others of not letting him “get superior and Jewish” I wanted to ask his ‘friends’, all equally as annoying as Cohn, just who’s being the superior jerk here?
However, these cringe-worthy moments were some of the few occasions I had an actual reaction to the text. Plagued with shallow situations, forgettable characters and devoid of emotion, the uninspired prose barely registered throughout. Even in describing Hemingway’s beloved Spain and daring bullfights, the writing was unemotional and aloof. Perhaps the stilted style represented the wooden psyches of Jake and his friends as they searched for meaning in a post-war world, I don’t know. What I do know is Hemingway’s roundabout way of speaking and delivering storylines are better suited to his short story, Hills Like White Elephants and the more mature, The Old Man and the Sea. I could sense a bit of the later Ernest in his writing, especially during Jake’s fishing trip, but I require more than copious alcohol consumption, a fringe love interest rotating through every male character in the book (although, more power to ya Brett) and fascination with the intricacies of bullfighting to keep me interested.
Domestic fiction -Columbine school shootings -grandiose attempt, verbose reality -psychological fiction --whatever you do, DO NOT eat those Cheese-its
The hour I first believed: a novel | Wally Lamb (book with a candle on the cover) ★ 1/2☆☆☆☆
audio narrated by George Guidall (summon legend) ★★★★☆ Guidall’s voice sucks you right into the character’s mind, even if you don’t want to go there
Fiction--Horror -Apocalyptic literature -Dystopias -suspense --there's nothing to see here folks, move along
Seizing upon human beings’ worst fear at the end of the world, the inability to see, Malerman captured lightning-in-a-bottle with this simple premise. From page one, the story hooks it’s talons in until you shake them off at the finish, dazed and stumbling and so grateful for the sight of the outside world. The setting is sparse and intimate, the characters believable and resourceful as they come together to secure a fragile respite from the ever-present threat. The bird box analogy works well; the characters themselves becoming the alarms to danger, especially the well-trained children when they are removed from their sanctuary cage and channel human bellwethers, guiding the survivors blindly upon the unknown river to an uncertain end.
Well-written apocalyptic stories are fascinating, I love the dissolution of society viewed from the inside, the rebuilding of an alternate world, finding solutions to specific problems, the building up of pressure, and the inevitable failing due to humanity’s weaknesses. This one plays out at a breakneck speed, the back and forth between the present river scenario and the past events is tense and compelling, even though the reader already knows the outcome. Illuminated by nuanced writing, infused with as much humanness as darkness and alternating with moments of true terror and hope, Malerman composed a masterfully suspenseful read.
*I watched the Netflix original movie and it had some interesting moments, but it is truly unlike the novel in nearly every way except for the river escape. Don’t let watching it deter you from this book, and read it first if you can.
I was riding high on my Bookish Jay and Reading Mermaid challenge choices until these couple of major misses, but the end is in sight while Julie and I plot our next year’s challenge prompts, coming soon. My 2018 year in books recap will be finalized next week, hope to see you then. Are you reading anything exciting over the holidays?
Just came here quickly to say YOU DID IT, YOU BESTED THAT ARSE HEMINGWAY! Now you never need to read a Hemingway novel again, the end. Also, I love/don’t love you frustration with Wally Lamb – that book sounds like a mess, but your casting about for a POINT to it all is outstanding. 🙂
Total arse, worse yet, he’s a bore.
Gah Hemingway. I am glad I decided to go with Steinbeck. You did get some great books in all and all so far. I am looking forward to reading your reflections on the whole year- bookish wise. I spent the morning with my friend Tricia gathering up some used books at the library and the Book Bazaar. I will have plenty of new books to choose from in 2019.
Steinbeck all the way, he wrote circles around Hemingway imo. A used book shopping trip sounds excellent, hope to see what you’ve nabbed. Bookish recap is up, crazy good and different year for my reading habits. I’ve enjoyed our chats❤
I just finished Bird Box this morning! It was great, I loved it, such a unique concept. Like, I’m sure if you asked people which one of the main senses they’d willingly give up, nearly everybody would go with hearing. Some people (not anyone deaf, of course) might even welcome the quiet. The others I’d consider vital to survival (especially taste; why survive at all if you can’t even enjoy the simplest pleasure – food – this world has to offer?) But taste, touch and sight go straight out the window in a world like Bird Box’s, so you’re suddenly relying on the “also ran” sense for basic survival – it’s utterly terrifying. AND GARY?!? So much swearing – my heart literally sunk. We’re going to watch the Netflix movie tonight, now that I’m done, and I remembered that you had said you’d go with the book first – good call. It was so deliciously tense, and I wouldn’t have wanted to ruin that by having a vague idea of where the story was going.
Excellent! It was such a thought-provoking intense read.
Although, hearing would not be the sense I’d give up, I don’t wanna live w/o music, audiobooks, birdsong, etc. I know I have a blog devoted to it and it’s pleasures, but smell would totally be the first sense to go.
Ooh Gary, and Don! The only plot point I questioned was the housemates’ lack of concern over Don’s whereabouts/hermit attitude, the characters appeared smarter than that. I’d be all over that dude.
Let me know your thoughts on the movie.
See, taste is a crucial one for me, and smell is such a crucial component of taste – I once read your taste sense is actually something like 90 percent related to your sense of smell. Freaky. Let’s never have to give up any of them, okay? Then we don’t have to choose. Or find ourselves rowing downstream blindfolded.
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Deal. Ironically, I’m sure my eyesight is already diminishing in one eye and I’ve noticed needing to turn up the volume a bit more each passing year. I just hope I won’t need that rowboat, my seafaring skills are rubbish whether blindfolded or not.